Caution Chlorophyllum molybdites present


Humble Habitat

Where on Earth can you find this mushroom? 

Chlorophyllum molybdites have been called the “backyard mushroom” because it is often growing in open, grassy backyards or in forests.  It appears that this fungus thrives in warm, wet places and is typically associated with the south and western parts of the United States, often in Colorado and the southern side of California. However, the Midwest is capable of having this climate during summer time and this fungus has been known to make an appearance here in La Crosse. They can also be found in the tropics all around the world because of the warm and humid climate there.      

Over 100 years ago this mushroom moved from the southern to middle countries in the Americas. It has reached international borders and become more abundant in Japan since the 1970s where there have been continuous cases of poisoning from this mushroom. The increase in climate temperature is a possible reason for the emergence of these mushrooms in Japan, which is considered a temperate zone.

Often times this fungus can be found growing in “fairy rings”. This is a description of the way fungus colonizes the ground in a ring-shape formation. The name fairy ring dates back to an old folk tale in England where it was believed fairies would prance around in a circle and the mushrooms would pop up in their trail. As much as this fairy tale paints an endearing picture in your head, we now know more about why this phenomenon happens.

This fungus contains hyphae, thread-like structures that make up the body of the fungus called a mycelium. This mycelium is underground and grows in an outward circle. The mycelium gather nutrients for the plant and ends up using all the resources from the grass and moves outward to gain new nutrients, keeping the circle formation. It will keep growing until it reaches a barrier or runs out of nutrients. When this happens, the central mycelium dies and gives back nutrients to the grass that it has been killing, allowing for the formation of new grass. The most commonly known fairy ring mushroom is the Marasmius oreades. This mushroom is not only the queen of growing in fairy rings, but also has the capability to revive itself after drying out. You can read more about this mushroom here.


Well now you know all about fairy rings, which are not produced by fairies. Sorry to take the magic away from you. To make up for it here are some other folklore about fairy rings form all over the world:

-In Germany it was believed fairy rings were where witches gathered to dance. They call it Hexenringe in German which means "witches' rings".

-The Old Dutch, on the other hand, thought rings were caused by where the devil churns his milk.

-Austria claimed it was the dragons.

Overall, the tales all typically deal with the belief it was caused by elves or fairies dancing. These legends all have the commonality that they warn us humans from disrupting the dance or they will be punished. This probably came about because some of the mushrooms that occur in rings are poisonous. This is a good tale to warn children and to remind future generations against consuming these mushrooms.



Home Page                                                                                                                               Next Page: Adaptation